On July 09, 2020, The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) zoos and aquarium announced plans to reopen the Bronx Zoo, New York Aquarium, Central Park Zoo, Prospect Park Zoo and Queens Zoo on Friday July 24, 2020, after being closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic since March 16, 2020. From July 20 to 23, 2020, there will be special preview days for WCS members only.
The announcement comes as the New York City Region is scheduled to enter New York State’s Phase 4 on Monday, July 20, 2020, barring any new directives from New York State. Reopening plans will be adjusted if needed based on state guidelines and COVID-19 indicators.
“One of the best things about what we do is introducing people to animals and nature and we have missed that during the closure.” said Bronx Zoo Director Jim Breheny. “The pandemic continues to impact our communities and our country. We are pleased that the Bronx Zoo, New York Aquarium and our other parks will again serve as retreats where guests can connect with animals and nature when we open on July 24 after being closed for 130 days. To ensure a safe and enjoyable experience, we will limit attendance. Please purchase your tickets online, as they will not be available at our gates. We will follow all guidelines from New York State and if we need to adjust plans for our opening date, we will. We are hopeful that all the city’s COVID-19 indicators will continue to improve, ensuring New York City will continue on its path to reopening.”
The zoos and aquarium have instituted enhanced sanitation and safety protocols for the reopening, including more staff and equipment to continuously disinfect the park; enforcing social distancing by limiting the number of visitors; creating one-way paths in certain areas; and incorporating contactless interactions. All staff will wear masks. The zoo has sanitizing stations throughout the park for staff and guests.
“We have been developing new guidelines and safety protocols to help ensure we can operate our parks safely,” said Breheny. “These guidelines are listed at each facility’s website under the “Know Before You Go” page. Procedures for each facility may vary, so visitors are encouraged to review these websites before their arrival to become familiar with the changes. Our primary concern is the safety of staff and guests. Please do your part by wearing masks, keeping social distance, and using our many washing and sanitation stations.”
Admission prices have been adjusted at some of the facilities to account for changes. Ticket prices are available at the point of sale on each parks’ website. Starting July 24 and through Labor Day, healthcare workers will receive free admission at any of the zoos and aquarium. Health care heroes can use promo code HERO2020 and need to bring healthcare identification cards to show at the gates. To reserve a day and time, healthcare heroes could visit here.
Highlights of reopening guidelines for all four zoos and the aquarium:
- The parks will be operating with limited capacity.
- Tickets must be purchased online for a specific date/time.
- No walk-up/on-site tickets will be available.
- At the Bronx Zoo, tickets will be sold for entry at 10:00 a.m.; noon; and 02:00 p.m. At the other parks, entry time slots will be sold on the hour all day until closing.
- Social distancing protocols will be in effect throughout the parks.
- Cleaning procedures will be enhanced, especially in high-touch areas.
- Lines, stores, and food concessions will be monitored to ensure that mask wearing and social distancing recommendations are met.
- Day camps and education programs will be available online and will be virtual.
“While we have been closed to the public, our essential staff has been here every day caring for the animals and maintaining park operations,” said Breheny. “The staff at our four zoos and aquarium have been amazing throughout this crisis, working tirelessly during this stressful time to meet the responsibilities we have to the animals in our care.”
The following are the “Know Before You Go” guidelines for each of the five parks:
Bronx ZooKnow Before You Go to the Bronx Zoo for All Guests
New York AquariumKnow Before You Go for at the New York Aquarium for All Guests
Central Park ZooKnow Before You Go to Central Park Zoo for All Guests
Prospect Park ZooKnow Before You Go to the Prospect Park Zoo for All Guests
Queens ZooKnow Before You Go to the Queens Zoo for All Guests